Are you determined to live your best life even with RA? It's within your reach! Commit to taking care of yourself and getting the most from your RA treatment. Take stock by seeing how many of these items you can check off in the next 30 days.
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I ordered salmon instead of a burger when I went out to eat today.
Good choice! Try to have 2 servings of fish a week.
Fish like salmon, tuna, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Heart-healthy omega-3s may also help ease joint pain and stiffness.
I ate lots of fiber-filled whole grains and fruits and vegetables this week.
Super! Try blackberries, pears, and split peas next time.
Those foods are full of fiber, which fills you up and may help you eat less and lose weight. Losing weight can help take pressure off your joints.
I ate healthy this month, choosing lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and veggies over fatty, sugary foods.
Awesome! Try to avoid fried and processed foods, and go for broiled or roasted options.
A balanced diet can lower your risk of heart disease, which is higher when you have RA. Eat a range of healthy foods and avoid foods with empty fat and calories.
I had yogurt or skim milk today.
Great! Make a smoothie with yogurt and your favorite fruit.
Calcium-rich foods help build strong bones. People with RA may be at risk of osteoporosis because of bone erosion around joints, and because some RA drugs can trigger bone loss.
I took a walk 5 days this week.
Good! Swimming is also great — and it's easy on your joints.
You might not feel like it, but regular exercise can help ease stiffness and pain. Exercise can relieve stress, make you happier, and may help you sleep better.
I lifted weights or used exercise bands today.
Great job! Yoga is another joint-friendly way to strengthen muscles.
Resistance exercises help strengthen muscles. Stronger muscles help keep joints stable. And stable joints are less painful and work better.
I did stretching exercises 5 mornings this week.
Super! Try tai chi to stretch and help range of motion.
Stretching can ease stiff muscles and joints and help improve range of motion. It's best to stretch when muscles are warm, so try taking a warm shower or walking and then stretch.
I did some cardio exercise -- like aerobics class or dancing -- today.
Great! Try to get some cardio in all week
Cardio (or aerobic) exercise is good for your heart and can help ease your pain. Try biking, dancing, or swimming.
I took time for myself today.
Good! It's OK to put yourself first sometimes.
Stress can make pain worse, so taking a break to do something you like can help fight pain and relieve anxiety.
I didn't let my RA stop me from having fun today.
Great! Call a friend to go for a walk or meet for lunch.
Don't let your condition limit you. When you do something you like, you feel good. That relieves stress and boosts your mood.
I got a gadget that helps me open jars easier.
Smart! Try a zipper pull to get dressed easier.
Self-help devices like long-handled shoe horns, easy-grip kitchen utensils, and bathtub rails can make daily activities easier and less painful.
I took my medication as prescribed.
Super! Set a reminder on your phone to take your medication.
It's important to take medicine as prescribed and not stop suddenly. If you feel your medication isn't working — or if side effects bother you — talk to your doctor.
I went to bed on time and slept well almost every night this week.
Super! Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Poor sleep can worsen RA pain and fatigue. If pain interrupts sleep, call your doctor. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even weekends.
I put a heating pad or cold pack on a painful joint today.
Good idea! A bag of frozen veggies makes a handy ice pack.
Both heat and cold can ease RA pain. Heat can also relieve stiffness, while cold can reduce swelling. Experiment to see which feels better for you.
I got support from other people with RA.
How smart! Get together and exercise or make a healthy meal.
Meeting with people who deal with the same issues can help you feel like you're not alone. Talking to others with RA can be a good way to ease stress.
I got a massage today.
Good idea! It's a great way to relax.
For some people, massages can ease RA pain and stress. Visit a licensed therapist, tell her about your RA, and talk to her during the massage about how you're feeling.
Bahadori, B. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, March/April 2010.
Arthritis Today: "Nutrition Guidelines for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis," "RA and Heart Disease: What You Need to Know," "Exercising With Rheumatoid Arthritis," "How Will a Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis Affect Your Life?" "Making a Well-Rounded Workout," "Self-Help Arthritis Devices," "How to Care for Yourself," "51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints," "Can Support Groups Help You Cope?" "Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief Without Drugs."
Arthritis Foundation: "Get Enough Sleep."
Slavin, J. Nutrition, March 2005.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health: "Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis," "What People with Rheumatoid Arthritis Need to Know About Osteoporosis."
American Heart Association: "Healthy Diet Goals."
National Osteoporosis Foundation: "Calcium: What You Should Know."
CDC: "The Benefits of Physical Activity," "How much physical activity do older adults need?"
Harvard Health Publications: "Relieve arthritis pain naturally with exercise."
Baillet, A. Arthritis Care & Research, July 2010.
Pennebaker, J. Psychological Science, 1997.
Steptoe, A. Neurobiology of Aging, August 22, 2005.
Luyster, F. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2011.
National Sleep Foundation: "How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?"
Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Alerts: "Rheumatoid Arthritis."
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